I love Christmas Lights, I’ve always loved them since I was young and as I had the means I began to build the type of displays I dreamed of as a child.
When I was growing up in the UK in the 70’s and 80’s very few people decorated the outside of their houses with Christmas lights. There were a few houses scattered around York that had some outdoor illumination (usually a single sting of multi coloured bulbs on around a window or on a tree,) I always remember how exciting it was to see these “lit” up houses. There was one house in particular, close to my grandmas that we would pass every year on the way home from Christmas eve dinner, this was an exciting trigger that we would be visited by Father Christmas that night.
When I moved to Canada I remember the excitement once Christmas season approached as all the houses in the neighborhood began to get lit up. I also remember being in awe at the shelves upon shelves on noma C9 incandescent lights at Shopper Drug Mart and Canadian Tire. My dad sprung for a couple of strings and put them up on our gutters. That first year we would take family walks around the neighborhood looking at all the decorated houses.
In our town the local newspaper held a Christmas decorating contest so we would also drive around to see all the extreme Christmas displays. One of these extreme displays belonged to my very best friends dad, so I would spend many occasions visiting and admiring this specific display. It was at this time I decided when I grow up (it is still very debatable if this has happened yet) and had my own house that I would have the best Christmas display on my street.
Around the same time I also remember seeing Christmas vacation in the theatre, this quickly became a holiday classic and the extreme exterior illumination of Clarke W. became a north star for me. As I got older my parents moved into a bigger house and added more lights to their annual display. My dad had a bit of a knack for slipping on/from the roof/ladder when putting up the lights so things didn’t get too crazy. After I moved away from home it became a bit of a tradition that my sister and I would buy some lights and add them to the house when we both got back to our parents for Christmas. Adding the latest in outdoor illumination technology/trends, net lights, early LEDs (some of these strings are still in my display), tree wrapping, inflatables etc…
Many years passed before I was finally forced to grow up a little with the birth of my first child, which required that I buy a real house to raise my family in. Once I had a canvas to work with I could now begin to build the light display I had always dreamed of. I added some warm white and Multi Colour LEDs to the ones I had inherited from my parents and began with a modest display the first year. Over the next couple of years I added more lights and got braver venturing to the second story. By this time I had about 1,000 lights on my house and in the yard as well as several Christmas inflatables. Then I added a 3 channel controller that could trigger the channels in preprogrammed patterns or in response to the waveform of music coming from a speaker. Although I really enjoyed the dynamic display this gave me it still was not satisfying as the channel reaction to the music (all TSO the first year), it was still very random. During that Christmas season I began looking at videos of musical light shows on YouTube which led me to Light-O-Rama (LOR).
That was it I was hooked, next year I would be doing a fully programmable musical light show. When the Light-O-Rama summer sale came I ordered 1 starter pack and 2 additional controllers (48 Channels) . I also ordered some controller stands from WowLights (highly recommended of anyone with LOR controllers) and some mini tree stands. Once I received all of these I began my adventure in programming musical light shows using LOR S4 editor. At first it was taking me about 3 hours to program 1 min of music, through October I was spending all my spare time in S4, once November came I was spending my weekends putting up lights and evenings in S4. I also bought over 100 extension cords to allow me to connect 48 channels across my house and yard. Unfortunately I accidently deleted all of my pictures and videos which included the build and shows from this year. When the show went live on Nov 26 I had around 20 mins of music programmed. Through December I continued to add songs until I ended with 20 songs and about 1 hour of music and 2 non musical sequences.
For 2017 I continued my trend of adding to my show, again waiting for the Light-O-Rama summer sale I decided I wanted to add some RGB lights to my display. I embarked on this new adventure ambitiously adding 400 RGB Bulbs, a CCR Pixel Tree and for good measure an additional controller bringing me to 64 standard channels plus 2400 RGB channels. As if adding RGB wasn’t enough I also decided I wanted to significantly change my overall layout of the lights and colour patterns, I have had to significantly rework my sequences (so much so I cannot decide if it is faster to re-work or start from scratch) to my new layout and the inclusion of RGB Pixels. I also decided to move my sequencing to the new beta version of LOR S5 because I found managing the RGB pixels in it much easier than the S4 Pixel Editor.